How Gigha was bought by the community
The island of Gigha was put on the market for sale in August 2001
by the Holt family. After much debate and encouragement by the local
MSP, George Lyon, and other bodies, it was agreed to launch a bid
by the community to buy the island. This followed a democratic voting
procedure by the community. A Steering Committee was formed with
seven members, and with the help of excellent advisor, the process
was initiated, the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust was established.
With the help of the Scottish Land Fund, who were able to offer
the Trust 3.525million, together with a grant from H.I.E of £500,000,
it was enough to secure the Island.
However, a condition of the grant for the isle of Gigha Heritage
Trust was to pay back £1 million of the grant from the Scottish
Land Fund by March 2004, £200,000 had to be raised through
their own fundraising efforts. An onerous task for a community with
a population of just over 100 people!
In true Gigha style, the islanders rose to the challenge.
On 15 th March 2002, the island was handed over to the Isle of
Gigha Heritage Trust. Seven Directors had been appointed by the
membership after an election procedure, as well as a nominated director
from H.I.E... A fundraising Committee was formed and the task began
to pay back £1,000,000 on 15 th March 2004.
In the meantime, the board of directors were working hard to take
projects forward, much needed to re-generate the island. The trading
Company Board of directors were working hard to ensure the smooth
running of the Gigha Hotel, the holiday Cottages and the ground
which surrounds them. The Playpark Committee were working to establish
a desirable playpark for the island's children. The Paths Network
were working to establish a network of walks for the islands visitors.
Members were attending Computer Classes to enable them to contribute
to the island web-site. The community spirit has been second to
none and the confidence and commitment by members has grown enormously.
All major decisions are put to Trust membership for a vote, ensuring
inclusive management of the island. A Development Manager is in
post, working on many initiatives – housing refurbishment programme,
community owned windfarm, new businesses, restructuring of farmland
and numerous other projects. He is assisted by an Administrator.
After much fundraising ranging from soup 'n' sandwich days, ceilidhs,
sponsored slims, quiz nights, sponsored rows around the island and
many more ventures, the £1,000,000 was paid back to the Scottish
Land fund on 15 th March 2004. The sale of Achamore House raised
the largest proportion of this.
At present the island is buzzing. New houses are being built, new
businesses have been established, many islanders are returning to
live on the island, wind turbines are to be erected and many more
projects are in the planning phase.
The achievements by this small island community have been exemplary
and, at this stage in the process, far exceed expectations, which
augurs well for the future.